What sparked our interest in maternal health?

Leah Franklin, Sereena Jivraj, Eimaan Anwar, & Mansi Rana  

Maternal health – birthing, delivery, prenatal health, and postpartum health – is a broad and complex field. There are many parts that encompass maternal health, and we all have our own experiences that have shaped our interests in the matter. Whether we ourselves gave birth, or we heard about a birthing experience from a loved one like our sisters, mothers, aunts, grandmothers, or close friends, it created and strengthened our bond to the maternal health sphere. Others have had professional experience from disseminating and analyzing public health research to more specifically being on the medical side and training in obstetrics or doula care.

My name is Leah Franklin, and I personally became interested in maternal health in a truly interesting way. Back in college, I was heavily involved in HIV research, and after graduating, I began working in cancer research. However, I found myself missing the social science aspect of research that I had in undergrad. I logged into an American Public Health Association (APHA) maternal health meeting that seemed enthralling. Listening to the existing disparities and actionable ways to address these disparities, I knew I had to become a part of this movement. That day, I contacted Dr. Amutah-Onukagha, the founder and Principal Investigator of The Maternal Outcomes for Translational Health Equity Research (MOTHER) Lab, and the rest is history.

My name is Leah Franklin, and I personally became interested in maternal health in a truly interesting way. Back in college, I was heavily involved in HIV research, and after graduating, I began working in cancer research. However, I found myself missing the social science aspect of research that I had in undergrad. I logged into an American Public Health Association (APHA) maternal health meeting that seemed enthralling. Listening to the existing disparities and actionable ways to address these disparities, I knew I had to become a part of this movement. That day, I contacted Dr. Amutah-Onukagha, the founder and Principal Investigator of The Maternal Outcomes for Translational Health Equity Research (MOTHER) Lab, and the rest is history.

In the midst of the brilliant Fourth Annual Black Maternal Health Conference, I was in awe of all the wonderful, powerful people I was in the company of. I wondered how we all got there, together at that moment. Recently, I sat down with some members of the Advocacy subcommittee in the MOTHER Lab and listened to their candid experiences about how they found themselves in maternal health research and advocacy:  

“I was curious about how societies would collaborate to protect and advance the health of women and children around the world. There are many women worldwide facing complications during pregnancy and childbirth and health professionals should offer mortality prevention strategies to help women in need.”  

-Mansi Rana  

“When I was in high school, I was fortunate to take part in examining neonatal deaths in a small rural village, which was an eyeopener to the reproductive disparities women experience and I’ve only grown more passionate about addressing them. I also have always loved children and feel so grateful to be a part of such an empowered group of women that aim to make large legislative changes to help women.”  

-Eimaan Anwar   

“From a very young age, I began volunteering in a local Labor and Delivery ward, which sparked my interest in medicine and public health. As I matured, I grew increasingly aware of the injustice women and children of color face, which angered me. I knew I wanted to help make and inspire change, so I thought joining an organization like the MOTHER Lab would be perfect! Now as part of a fantastic group of people, I’m advocating for moms and babies and speaking up on their behalf when others fail to listen.”  

-Sereena Jivraj  

Being part of a community that shares the same passion and dedication to ending maternal health disparities is affirming and beautiful. I am so honored to work with these advocates, researchers, and community members to do this amazing work. Though we all entered into the maternal health space in a myriad of different ways, we all are dedicated to the cause of eliminating maternal health disparities, and that is a wonderful thing.

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